This lesson begins an in-class performance task. A performance task is an end-of-unit culmination of learning when scholars demonstrate all they have learned within the unit by completing some sort of task. It is important to give scholars an opportunity to demonstrate their learning on a formal summative assessment as well as on a performance task. Scholars have different strengths and different ways of demonstrating their understandings. Scholars who do well on a performance task may not necessarily do well on a traditional assessment. Therefore, it is important to give scholars the opportunity to demonstrate what they learned in a traditional and non-traditional way.
We begin this lesson by exploring different types of narratives (the performance task involves creating a narrative) to determine the pieces that narratives have in common. I pre-place 2-3 narratives in 5 different places in the room. These are narratives that scholars have read throughout the course of the unit, so they are familiar with the text and will not have to go back and completely re-read.
Scholars break into their post-it note groups and discuss what the narratives have in common. Click here to see one group, mid-discussion: Cue Set.
The idea here is that scholars identify common characteristics of narratives so that they know what their narratives should include.
In this section, scholars go a step beyond identifying similarities between narratives and actually identify what makes a narrative particularly strong, or engaging.
Scholars return to their table groups and they have 2 minutes discuss the following question with the friends at their table:
*What makes the narratives particularly strong or engaging to you as a reader?
I take 2 friends from my cup to share and 2 volunteers. I do this to keep scholars on their toes (friends from the cup are random) and give other scholars (volunteers) a chance to share if they REALLY want to do so.
The main point of this section is to get scholars to think about what makes narratives strong so that they can create an engaging narrative. I allow them to explore before I give them the requirements of the project so that they can develop the skills of critical thinking and using what they have in front of them (exemplars of narratives) to learn how to do the same thing (create their own narrative).
Next, scholars take notes on what makes a narrative strong. Click here for Scholars Notes. They copy the following into their notebooks:
1. Development of characters & characters response to a challenge
2.Logical event sequence
3. Use of narrative techniques (dialogue, description and pacing)
4. Transitional words
5. Sensory details (alliteration, personification)
I have scholars write a box next to each number so that they can check each off as they go back once they've created their rough drafts. Here is the Smartboard Screen from which scholars copied the notes.
During this section, scholars receive the performance task and our grading rubric. Scholars have 2 minutes to read the task description with their table partners. Then, they have 3 minutes to discuss what the task is asking them to do and jot down any questions that they may have.
Instead of standing up and reading the performance task to scholars, I try to build their skill of reading, understanding and asking questions about a specific task rather than being spoon fed. However, I also provide the scaffold of discussing the task with me after they digest it on their own.
Now, scholars have the opportunity to ask me questions directly to ensure that they understand the task and the way in which it will be graded.
During the independent practice, scholars begin to research the natural disaster that will be the focus of their narrative. To support scholars in their research, I give them the following sub-topics that may be helpful to them as they develop their narratives.
1. Warning signs of the natural disaster
2. Effects of the natural disaster (what does it feel like during the natural disaster)
3. Impact on humans of the natural disaster (what typically happens to buildings, towns, people after the disaster)
Scholars work INDEPENDENTLY on the performance task. It is important that scholars work independently because they must demonstrate their own understanding of the topics and skills that we've practiced thus far. Here are some Scholars researching.
While scholars work, I provide my ELL scholars with their accommodations. Also, I pull below-grade level readers to give them their middle-of-the-year IRI's (reading assessment - click here for an IRI overview).